• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How significant a role did the British navy play in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars and the overall defeat of Napoleon.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

How significant a role did the British navy play in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars and the overall defeat of Napoleon. look at essay bank for the introduction Between 1793 and 1815 one of history's most outstanding military minds waged war across Europe. Napoleon was perhaps one of France's greatest military leaders of all time and one of History's great characters. At his peak he controlled almost of all of mainland Europe as far as Moscow. Despite his indisputable genius Napoleon was critically flawed and suffered a crushing defeat at Waterloo. There are a number of factors responsible for the downfall of the French leader and I am going to look at the significance of the navy compared to other factors which contributed to the final defeat. Not only did the period 1793-1815 lead to the establishment of a virtually unchallengeable British maritime predominance in the narrow sense of the possession of a vastly superior fleet, backed by numerous dockyards and naval bases and by a massive merchant marine; but it also confirmed Britain's control in the colonial world and her lead in foreign trade During the first phases of the wars which were fought against revolutionary France and not Napoleon the navy was not prepared for war and consequently failed to offer support to the armies present in Europe, for example they failed to give gunnery support when York besieged Dunkirk. ...read more.

Middle

French and Spanish ships were smashed by superior gunnery and firepower from the navy. Some 14,000 French and Spanish sailors were lost, ten times the British casualties. The British fleet also captured 19 out of the 33 French ships. Trafalgar renewed European confidence in Great Britain and led to the formation of the 3rd coalition. The navy therefore played a significant role as this battle set the seal on British sea power and ended any chance Napoleon had of invading Britain. When one adds to these victories the many smaller ones, the frigate actions in distant waters, and the attacks upon such harbours as Copenhagen (1801 and 1807) and Aix Roads (1809), then it scarcely suprising that the Nelsonic period has been regarded as the high point of British naval history. It is perhaps a tribute to the strength of the Britain's Navy and economy, that Napoleon introduced the ambitious Continental System. Under the Berlin Decrees of 1806, all ports under French control were to reject British trade. Although initially British exports fell by 25%, the dominance of the Royal Navy meant that the blockade could never be fully implemented. Trading simply continued as Britain exported to Europe through Portugal, along the Baltic coast. This once again showed the significance of having a strong navy in terms of maintaining trade and therefore being able to keep the armies and navy fighting against Napoleon. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is true on a number of other occasions were Napoleon underestimated his opponents and at times ignored the advice given to him by his generals. His personal greatness and success on the battlefield may have led to his eventual defeat at Waterloo. When looking at significant factors for the defeat of Napoloen one cannot overlook the importance of the support of the great military powers of Europe. This was essential since Britain, with a population less than half that of France, lacked the manpower resources to clear the French out of Holland and Belgium. European help was also needed if Britain was to do what had never been done before - to crush France's resistance entirely and overthrow her government. She also needed European assistance to prevent France from renewing their maritime resources by plundering or dominating their maritime neighbours. Also since the French opponents of the Revolution were to weak to succeed on their own or with British backing alone, European help was needed if Britain was to do what had never been done before - to crush France's resistance entirely and overthrow her government. The coalitions were a significant reason for the defeat of Napoleon and the end of the wars. The coalition forces included:- Russia, Prussia, Great Britain, Sweden, Austria, Spain, Portugal and the German states. Although not all of the seven coalitions were a success they were all well financed and eventually weakened Napoleon enough to enable the seventh coalition which defeated him at Waterloo. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Modern European History, 1789-1945 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Modern European History, 1789-1945 essays

  1. Reasons for Napoleon's Success (to 1807).

    * Napoleon would at this point order his own reserves to launch a surprise enveloping attack on the enemy's rear and/or flank. In the decisive French charges and relentless pursuit which followed, heavy casualties would be inflicted on the fleeing enemy.

  2. How far can the downfall of Napoleon be explained by the continuous opposition of ...

    are the first to draw the sword I will be the last to sheath it"1. This desire to destroy Britain would lead Napoleon first to plan an invasion of Britain, then to implement the Continental System and even to attempt invasions of Spain and Russia.

  1. In the process of consolidating his position, Napoleons reforms, had by 1808, destroyed the ...

    This upheld equality - someone in some school would receive the same education as someone from another school. However, this also meant that there was no room for freedom of choice within the state system, or for freedom of thought or expression by pupils or staff; this was a betrayal

  2. How far did Napoleon Bonaparte maintain the revolutionary ideals of liberty and equality in ...

    Eventually, they were accepted on November 28th. Napoleon gave specific rules and regulations dealing with the relations between Jews and Christians, the government of the Jewish community, together with various limitations to their freedom of business, especially money lending. The Jews were obligated to pay taxes and to provide recruits for the army.

  1. To what extent and why did the impact of Napoleonic rule vary outside France?

    Paris needed to be consulted over every move satellite states made and Napoleon personally oversaw the majority of decisions however petty. It could take weeks for a request to be approved and placed into action at the outer reaches of the Empire which severely reduced the level of efficiency when implementing many of Napoleon's wishes.

  2. Trotsky - Succession, Revolutionary Success, Civil War Hero, Death, Failure and End

    His pride and arrogance prevented him from posing any real opposition to Stalin, and he refused to associate himself with Kamenev and Zinoviev in a united opposition against party bureaucracy until 1926. By the time that he, Kamenev and Zinoviev managed to find serious flaws in Stalin's 'inspirational' plans by

  1. Why was England able to defeat Napoleon by 1815?

    The result in Spain were guerilla fighters who kept harassing the French. Napoleon, for all his genius, could not adapt to this new style of warfare, and this can be said to be a reason for his defeat.

  2. How important was the role of the British army in the defeat of France ...

    Because of their sound training and good equipment, these lines rarely broke, and coupled with the reverse slope tactic of standing out of sight just behind the brow of a hill, the force proves very successful against the French. By contrast, the French army was large, but made up of ill-trained conscripts.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work